Hepatitis E virus genotype 3 in shellfish, United Kingdom.
|Article Type:||Letter to the editor|
Pork industry (Health aspects)
Food contamination (Health aspects)
Baker, Paul J.
Dalton, Harry R.
|Publication:||Name: Emerging Infectious Diseases Publisher: U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases ISSN: 1080-6040|
|Issue:||Date: Dec, 2012 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 12|
|Product:||SIC Code: 2011 Meat packing plants; 2013 Sausages and other prepared meats|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom|
To the Editor: Bivalve mollusks (shellfish), such as mussels and
oysters, are filter feeders; they concentrate microorganisms of human
and animal origin (up to 100x) from the surrounding environment. Several
recent reports have linked the incidence of human infection with
hepatitis E virus (HEV) to consumption of undercooked pork, game
products, and shellfish (1,2). Infectious HEV has been found in swine
manure and wastewater (3); therefore, application of manure to land and
subsequent runoff could contaminate coastal water, leading to
contamination of shellfish and, subsequently, possible human infection.
Because they are filter feeders, bivalve mollusks are biologically
relevant sentinels and can indicate potential pathogens that are
contaminating the environment. It is essential to ensure that this
sustainable resource of coastal areas, where mussels and oysters are
farmed or collected wild, is not subjected to environmental
contamination that could lead to public health risks.
Risk management for bivalve mollusks, aimed at control of fecal pollution, relies heavily on the use of Escherichia coli as an indicator of fecal (sewage) contamination and is enacted under European food regulations (Regulation 854/2004, www.cefas.co.uk/media/455777/ extract_reg_no_854_2004.pdf). However, although these regulations probably reduce the number of infections, especially bacterial infections, they are not viewed as adequately controlling the risk for viral infections. Specific risks are posed by the robustness of viruses in the environment and the different behavior of viruses within bivalve mollusks compared with behavior within bacterial fecal indicators.
HEV is deemed to be inactivated during processing procedures used to prepare mussels for consumption; however, HEV is only 50% inactivated at 56[degrees]C and 96% at 60[degrees]C for 1 hour, it is stable when exposed to trifluorotrichloroethane, and it is resistant to inactivation by acidic and alkaline conditions (4). Most shellfish are usually eaten raw, but viable virus can also pose a risk to public health in shellfish that are lightly steamed or preserved by smoking and/or in acetic acid. Indeed, a recent study by the Food Standards Agency, in which >800 oyster samples from 39 growing beds in the United Kingdom were collected and screened during 20092011, found norovirus at low levels in at least 76% of oysters (5). Other studies identified hepatitis A virus and norovirus in shellfish production areas and in ready-to-eat products in the United Kingdom (1,6). In fact, depuration experiments demonstrated no decrease in titers against hepatitis A virus over a 23-hour cleansing period (7). In addition, acute HEV infection attributed to consumption of shellfish was diagnosed for 33 passengers who recently returned from a cruise (2). However, data have been restricted to questionnaires implicating consumption of shellfish as a source of transmission; no follow-up analyses of the contaminated foodstuff have been conducted. Thus, possible transmission routes for HEV remain poorly studied in the United Kingdom (2).
To determine whether HEV is present in mussels collected locally for human consumption, we examined 48 mussels from 5 tidal locations in Scotland. We collected closed mussels from the west coast of Scotland (11 at Lunderston Bay and 28 at Ardrossan) and the east coast of Scotland (9 at Stannergate, Dundee; Ferryden, Montrose; and the Ythan Estuary at Newburgh).
The site at Ardrossan was near a slaughterhouse and a meat preparation purification plant that processes pigs. The plant was considered a potential source of contamination, and mussels were collected in a 10-m2 area around an outfall (drain/sewage pipe) directly in line with the processing plant.
A total of 36 (92%) of the 39 mussels from the west coast were positive by PCR for HEV, and 5 (55%) of the 9 from the east coast were positive. The mean value of HEV RNA detected in the samples was 4.25 [log.sub.10] IU/mL (range 3.73-5.2 [log.sub.10] IU/mL), and the assay was validated by using the current candidate HEV World Health Organization standard (http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2011/ WHO_BS_2011.2175_eng.pdf). Phylogenetic analysis showed that most bivalve mollusk sequences clustered with HEV genotype 3 from humans and swine (Figure; online Technical Appendix, wwwnc.cdc. gov/EID/pdfs/12-0924-Techapp. pdf). Also, HEV sequences isolated specifically from a UK human source corresponded with sequences isolated from the bivalve mollusks. The presence of a swine-like HEV genotype 3 in freshwater bivalve mollusks has also been reported in Japan and South Korea (1,9).
Worldwide, an estimated 40,000 persons die and another 40,000 experience long-term disability as a result of consuming raw or undercooked shellfish (10). This study, demonstrating the presence of HEV in mussels collected locally in Scotland for human consumption, raises concern as to whether these shellfish are a potential source of infection, as reported (2). The association between environmental contamination with HEV and possible transmission by eating shellfish warrants investigation.
This work was supported by European Commission FP6 funded project LSHB-CT-2006-037377 and by the Chief Scientist Office Scotland project reference ETM/32.
Claire Crossan, Paul J. Baker, John Craft, Yasu Takeuchi, Harry R. Dalton, and Linda Scobie
Author affiliations: Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland, UK (C. Crossan, P.J. Baker, J. Craft, L. Scobie); University College London, London, UK (Y. Takeuchi); and European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, UK (H.R. Dalton)
(1.) Kamar N, Bendall R, Legrand-Abravanel F, Xia NS, Ijaz S, Izopet J, et al. Hepatitis E. Lancet. 2012;379:2477-88. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61849-7
(2.) Said B, Ijaz S, Kafatos G, Booth L, Thomas HL, Walsh A, et al. Hepatitis E outbreak on cruise ship. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009;15:1738-44. http://dx.doi. org/10.3201/eid1511.091094
(3.) McCreary C, Martelli F, Grierson S, Ostanello F, Nevel A, Banks M. Excretion of hepatitis E virus by pigs of different ages and its presence in slurry stores in the United Kingdom. Vet Rec. 2008;163:2615. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.163.9.261
(4.) Emerson SU, Arankalle VA, Purcell RH. Thermal stability of hepatitis E virus. J Infect Dis. 2005;192:930-3. http://dx.doi. org/10.1086/432488
(5.) Lowther JA, Gustar NE, Powell AL, Hartnell RE, Lees DN. A two-year systematic study to assess norovirus contamination in oysters from commercial harvesting areas in the United Kingdom. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012;78:5812-7.
(6.) Baker K, Morris J, McCarthy N, Saldana L, Lowther J, Collinson A, et al. An outbreak of norovirus infection linked to oyster consumption at a UK restaurant, February 2010. J Public Health (Oxf). 2011;33:205-11.
(7.) McLeod C, Hay B, Grant C, Greening G, Day D. Inactivation and elimination of human enteric viruses by Pacific oysters. J Appl Microbiol. 2009;107:1809-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.136 5 2672.2009.04373.x
(8.) Erker JC, Desai SM, Mushahwar IK. Rapid detection of hepatitis E virus RNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using universal oligonucleotide primers. J Virol Methods. 1999;81:10913. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0166-0934 (99)00052-X
(9.) Li TC, Miyamura T, Takeda N. Detection of hepatitis E virus RNA from the bivalve Yamato-Shijimi (Corbicula japonica) in Japan. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2007;76:1702.
(10.) Shuval H. Estimating the global burden of thalassogenic diseases: human infectious diseases caused by wastewater pollution of the marine environment. J Water Health. 2003;1:53-64.
Address for correspondence: Linda Scobie, Department of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Rd, Glasgow, G4 0BA, UK; email: linda.scobie@ gcu.ac.uk
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|